Radiohead- In RainbowsOctober 16, 2007
October 10th 2007
And so begins my obligatory review of Radiohead’s self-released seventh studio album In Rainbows. In a marketing move unparalleled in recent memory, Radiohead surprised the music world with their short notice release. First came the THE MOST GIGANTIC LYING HOAX OF ALL TIME (in reference to the title of their 2004 DVD The Most Gigantic Lying Mouth of All Time), then came the light hearted apology from someone in the Radiohead camp (see comment below LP7 article), and then came the digital release of In Rainbows for a price to be determined by the purchaser, buyers throwing as much or as little money at the record as they please. The series of events unfolds daily.
I of course bought the disc-box to be released on or around December 3rd for $81.50 because I am a gimmick sucker who needs the liner notes, artwork, and vinyl records. Damn the greenback’s worthlessness! All of a sudden Radiohead was on every music blog known to man, woman, and child. Even the ultra hip blogs, too cool to blog on Radiohead, blogged about how they weren’t blogging about Radiohead. I on the other hand am compelled to add to the chorus of accolades you have no doubt already read. I will say it from the git’go, In Rainbows is an incredible album.
15 Step makes the perfect transition from Hail to the Thief, incorporating a hyper dense drum intro and Yorke’s gospelesque croon. One might assume that this bridge would continue into some extension of their sixth album, but In Rainbows is not contained within such a linear trajectory. Bodysnatchers reminds us that Radiohead hasn’t lost their pre-post-postmodern charm as recorded on Pablo Honey and The Bends and then perfected on OK Computer. As a delicate and contemplative Rhythm and Blues track, Nude delivers as good as any Radiohead song has ever delivered. The song is so sensitive you can hear the guitar pick click down the chord like a washboard. This song is easily among Radiohead’s best. All I Need is a heavy, erotic, almost oppressively desirous expression. Lines like, “I’m an animal, trapped in your hot car,” spoken with resigned conviction, induce the sense of weighty heat. In some ways In Rainbows is Radiohead’s most sexual album, if not because of the lyrics then because of the soft tension and resignation emphasizing vulnerability.
How do we even begin to deconstruct Faust Arp? Faust sold his soul and Arp co-founded the Dada art movement in Europe after the First World War. Dada was a self proclaimed anti-art movement. With Radiohead’s distaste for the music industry’s standard operating procedures, perhaps the title has to do with contractual relationships with commercial entities. It was only after Radiohead came out the other end of that meat grinder that they had the clout, the authority, and cultural standing to depart from the commercial structure and operate as its antithesis with 1.2 million records sold on their own on the album’s first day. While pinning meaning to a Radiohead song is rarely productive, this song is themed with voyeurism, with being watched, with performance, with expectation, and the relationship between the audience and the artist. Faust Arp is a short and gorgeous tune laced with a poetic string arrangement and provocative lyrics.
Reckoner is the crescendo of In Rainbows. Thom Yorke’s vocal melody and solemn vibrato tear away at the heart. The urban-trap beat contrasts with the violins and the phantom vocals layered throughout this perfectly crafted song. If you listen closely at the end of the track you can even hear the song transform into an up-tempo jingle. Reckoner reminds us why Radiohead is so good. They are prolific in both their creativity and their ability to construct new spaces in which to explore the human condition and the range of our collective experience. Yes, they are that good.
And on and on and on again. So much can be said for this record. In Rainbows balances the complex and the simple challenging the listener as it awes them. The closing track Videotape is a rather straightforward dirge lamenting loss and recognizing regret, wanting moments of our past back. Not to correct them or improve them, but to live them again, keeping everything exactly the same. As the song concludes, drums build into a slow polyrhythmic snare roll, as if to count down the seconds remaining in our lives. In Rainbows is not a retreat from their more eccentric work, rather it is a reaffirmation of their exemption from a linear trajectory. I cannot wait until the disc-box gives me 8 more.
Pablo Honey- 1993
The Bends- 1995
Ok Computer- 1997
Kid A- 2000
Hail to the Thief- 2003
Posted in 2007, 9 Points, Bands, England, Frederick Foxtrott, Hipster, Hoax, In Rainbows, Indie, Music, Music Review, Pitchfork Media, Radiohead, The Most Gigantic Lying Hoax of All Time, Thom Yorke, UK, Unsigned | Tagged , 9 Points, Bands, England, In Rainbows, Music, Music Review, Radiohead, Thom Yorke, UK, Unsigned |